‘Purposing Change’ Meditations: 7. Facing Hindrances
Lk 18:22 “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Now this isn’t a call to sell all, Jesus doesn’t ask that of many of us (the people of Acts were still property owners) but for this man, Jesus was putting his finger on the one thing that hindered him fully experiencing the kingdom. I recently came across an interesting book called ‘The Culture Map’ in which the author, a professor of a business school, shows how trying to conduct business across cultures, in different countries across the world, has to face the hindrances that come from the way different people communicate, how blunt some are or how reading between the lines others are.
The point is that if you fail to understand the hindrances, you will fail to communicate and conduct business. Jesus was eyeballing the love of possessions that this man had that would hinder him being free to follow Jesus. The hindrances that may hinder in our quest may be on our side or that of those we seek to reach.
Let’s take us first. For most of us, I suspect a hindrance could be pride (I wouldn’t want to do that) or low spiritual self-esteem (I couldn’t do that) or maybe fear (but what might happen?). What I wonder is the thing about which Jesus smiles but then puts his finger on? It will be different for each of us. Will you allow him to so gently set you free so he can use you to change the ‘impossible’? If we allow this thing, whatever it is, to prevail, it will hinder him being able to work through you, so why not pause up for a moment and confess it to Him and ask for His grace to get by it.
But what are the things that hinder our loved ones from coming to faith. Four things come to mind. First, of course, the enemy is blinding them (we’ll look at this more fully in a later study) and so we overcome that blindness by prayer – more on that later.
Second, there are misconceptions: “I would have to be good, religious, spiritual – and I don’t know how to be like that and I’m sure I can’t be like that.” Or it may be misconceptions about God. My wife had a modern song playing the other day with the words at one point, “He is for you,” and she commented (as a believer from childhood who has come up through legalistic evangelicalism), “You know we never heard that when I was a child, it was never conveyed to us that He was for us. I think we only heard of a God who had such demands of us we were fairly sure he was against us.” That is terrible. Are you sure that the Lord is for you AND for your partner, friend etc. Go on, risk it one of these days. Come out with, “You know I was praying this morning, and I know you struggle to believe this but I believe God communicates with us and I felt He told me to tell you that He loves you and is for you. Whether or not you believe it, that can’t be bad can it – that if there is a God he says He likes, loves and is for you? Oh, do you want coffee or tea?”
The third hindrance that not-believers-yet have is fear, possibly linked with the misconceptions. Perhaps they feel guilty over their past or even their hidden present and fear what God might say about it. Perhaps it is their perceived inability to be good, religious etc. Perhaps it is fear of what might be demanded of them if they enter a church building, that they wouldn’t know what to do. Invite them to some non-religious event first whereby they can see the inside of the building without threat.
A fourth hindrance is often linked to the second one about misconceptions but this is different – they have unresolved questions about God, life, the world, Christianity, Christ, etc. etc. Why not ask the leadership if the church could do a midweek evening course on “Most Commonly Asked Questions or Misconceptions about Life, God, the Universe and Everything.” That might be a challenge and also a doorway in. Things to think about, pray about and seek God’s wisdom for. Are you up for it?